Should Ethics Committees Be Death Panels?


(By Nancy Valko, RN ALNC) – I volunteered to serve on a newly started hospital ethics committees in the 1990s. While I wanted to help analyze difficult cases and serve as a resource for hospital personnel with ethical concerns, I became increasingly alarmed when I saw cost containment and judgments based on “quality of life” brought up as decisive factors by others on the committee.

I understood more when I researched the beginnings of ethics committees. After numerous failed attempts to legalize euthanasia, the Euthanasia Society of America invented the “living will” in 1967 as a first step in gaining public acceptance of euthanasia by promoting a so-called “right to die”.

The group achieved much success by publicly promoting “living wills” as a patient rights document that would give people and/or their families choice and control at the end of life or, especially after the 1976 Karen Quinlan case, if their quality of life was considered too poor. CONTINUE



Bobby Schindler, President of the Terri Schiavo Life & Hope Network, travels the country to give witness to the importance of upholding human dignity through service to the medically vulnerable.

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